Thursday, 30 October 2014

Red Kite

First and foremost, apologies to 'our fans'.  I don't imagine there are many of you out there, but I know for sure that poor old Chris W has been religiously checking for updates and has been continuously disappointed for months.  Apparently, he likes to drink a cup of tea and take ten minutes out of his busy day as a high flying lawyer to read the blog when a new post goes up.  Considering how much this downtime must cost his firm, I'm thinking of contacting his employer to see if they will pay me to assure my silence and thereby keep Chris running at full capacity each day.  If there are any other hot shots out there reading the blog while on the clock, let me know and I'll add your company to the list.

Exploring the Algarve coast
Last time, we left you wondering what our next boat would be.  This has provoked a fair amount of interest and even kind offers of help with the search.  Considering the long break after that blog post, I wonder if I would do well writing scripts for TV series.  After all, they always leave viewers with a good cliff hanger before breaking at the end of a series.

Kate, trying to save money on flights home
I can now tell you that we have found and purchased Firebird's replacement.  Unfortunately, I can't go into all the details or publish photos of that boat at this time.  She's a long keeled, steel ketch, slightly longer than Firebird.  She needs a moderate amount of work to the outside and a complete refit inside.  She's definitely not a 'doer upper', but she's not quite up to our standards and when the time's right, we're going to spend several months getting her up to scratch and will end up with the perfect home that we will be able to confidently take anywhere in the world.

Me in Portugal
Not wanting to leave readers disappointed by my vague announcement of the new boat, I shall instead divulge details of our new, new boat!

We left the Canary Islands after selling Firebird and went to Portugal before returning to the UK.  We had really enjoyed spending time in the Lagos area while waiting with Firebird to cross to the Canaries back in January, so we returned, this time for some warmer weather and plenty of piri piri chicken on the BBQ.

We are now back in England and the reason we returned, instead then immediately starting work on the new boat, was that we received an inordinate number of wedding invitations and didn't want to turn any down.  To be precise, six invitations rolled in for weddings spanning August to December.  We have so far attended four of these and each one has been an absolute treat.  We really do love a good wedding.  Who couldn't revel being surrounded by friends and family, a blow out meal, everyone dressed to impress, a disco and of course, watching a dewey eyed couple say "I will", being there to witness the very start of their journey through life together?

While in Portugal, an amazingly timed email from Kate's old scrum master (read 'manager' if you don't know what that is) hit her inbox, asking if there was any chance that she wanted some work.  We hadn't been planning to work, but it made perfect sense, seeing as we didn't have any other plans apart from the weddings.  Needing a roof to keep the British weather off out heads, we moved in with my sister in London, who had a spare room we could borrow.  Mr V, her cat, was initially unimpressed with our presence, but he soon warmed to us.  He's a very unusual cat and we had great fun getting to know him.  He's less 'cat', and more a cross between a puppy and a shy, grumpy old man.

Spending quality time with Mr V
I was starting to think I had landed squarely on my feet.  I was staying at home in the flat, chilling with Mr V while my sister and Kate went to work.  If I chose, I could lounge around in my boxers until at least 17:00 each day.  Before long, Kate started wondering if my time could be better spend also earning some money, to top up the coffers in preparation for the new boat's refit.  I'm not sure I completely agree, after all, the role of cat companion is an important one, but when it turned out that a neighbouring team was looking for a developer with my skills, I sent in my CV.

Mr V hiding in the bath
Well, I was unlucky enough to get the job and for me, too, it was once again time to roll my sleeves up, join the rat race and spend Monday to Friday pushed up against the grind stone.  Some say that life is like a grind stone: Depending what you're made of, it will either wear you down or make you shine.  I'm like to think that I'm a shiner and I'm certainly really enjoying getting stuck into software development again.  I'm meeting a load of friendly, technical people and learning several new technologies and methodologies.

This brings us back to the new, new boat that you may have been wondering about for the last few paragraphs.  Now that we were both working in West London, living at my sister's place in South East London was less than ideal.  The commute was 1.5 hours each way and by the time we had travelled in and out, worked, eaten, got ready for the following day, it was time to go to sleep.  We needed a better solution.

I'm not sure which of us came up with the idea, but all of a sudden, we were looking at second hand motorboats online.  Kate is amazing at finding a good deal and she didn't disappoint this time.  We're now the proud, albeit slightly embarrassed, owners of an Eastwood 24 cabin cruiser, called Findon Lady II.  Frankly, we think this name is rubbish and have unofficially renamed her Red Kite.  When we get a chance, we'll follow the traditional renaming ritual.  Hopefully not too many of our sailing friends will read this.  We haven't become one of "them", although I have to say that we do totally love this boat.  When you remove the design constraints put on a vessel that needs to be able to sail, you get a whole lot more living space, and stacks more storage!

Findon Lady II moored for the night in Cookham, with Kate and my sister on the journey from Reading to London
We moved Red Kite from Reading to London over a weekend and were again slightly abashed to admit that we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Maybe it's "them" that have got it right after all.  We got up in the morning, turned the key, slipped the lines and were off.  The Thames offered flat water, picturesque scenery and a very relaxed boating experience.  We didn't need to manhandle sails out of bags and up masts, we didn't need to keep an eye on tell tales, trim the sails, battle against sea sickness, worry about bad weather hitting and best of all, you could put anything you liked down on the table and it would stay exactly where you left it!

Kate below decks making a cuppa
On the Sunday morning, when it became obvious that the fuel gauge wasn't working, due to the fact that it was still reading 100% and we had been motoring for a good eight hours, we found the nearest place to fill up.  Well, I never did 'fill up'.  Seeing as it was the first time I had refuelled this boat, I didn't know what to expect and I lost my nerve when the pump read £120, calling it a day before the tank was full.  I couldn't believe that we could legitimately be spending this much money on petrol.  I worried that maybe the filler pipe was disconnected and I was pumping brown gold directly into our bilges.  Upon inspection, this wasn't the case and I quickly remembered why we are sailors at heart!  We didn't spend that much on diesel sailing all the way from London to the Canaries in Firebird.

The only reason we need to stop us switching to motor boats for good!
So there you have it, we're back on a boat, moored closer to work and have got some free time in the evenings, which I can spend on things like blog writing!